I started off my Sunday morning by reading an article my wife had found in Woman’s World magazine. This article made a nutrition claim that just didn’t sound right, and I wanted to know more. They claimed that coconut oil is actually part of a healthy eating plan. This article even recommended that you consume 2-4 tbsp of coconut oil daily. How could that be, since I knew coconut oil was about 92% saturated fat. In fact it has the highest percentage of saturated fat of any common cooking oil. This article’s healthy diet tip just couldn’t be true, could it?
So, I went into my office, sat down at the computer and started researching their claim on the web. After more than one hour, and after scanning through more than 20 websites (one of which was a 27 page paper on organic chemistry!), I finally found my answer. But I started to think about the process I had just gone through to find a “simple” answer to a “simple” question. I wondered how does a layperson (i.e., a person who’s business is not focused on health and nutrition like mine is) ever figure out what’s a healthy eating tip and what’s actually unhealthy?
Along my journey, I read about saturated and unsaturated fats, trans fats, molecule bonding, hydrogenation processes, Thai cooking, low fat vs. low carb diets, American diets, French diets, Somali diets, plaque buildup in arteries, etc., etc. You get the picture – research on the web is not for the faint of heart!
My experience reinforced for me why we at Vitaerobics are so positive about our approach to health and nutrition – keep it simple and give people the key information they need to make healthy choices. Products like the Fat Finder™ enable you to easily calculate the fat count in the foods you eat. Our upcoming book 30% Fat…What’s That? helps you understand the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats, how to read nutrition labels, and what strategies you can use to lower ldl cholesterol. The other products we currently have in development are all focused on simplifying your health and nutrition choices too.
Anyway, back to the original question – is coconut oil good for you? The answer is probably not. There is significant disagreement within the nutrition community on this issue. There are some healthy components in coconut oil, but as far as I can tell, on balance it’s not beneficial for most people. If you were to consume 2-4 tbsp of coconut oil per day, as the article suggests, that would equate to 240-480 calories and 30-60 grams of fat per day (92% of it saturated fat). If you eat 2000 calories per day, that’s nearly 23% of your calories just in fat, and I don’t know of any nutritionist who would tell you that is a good thing. In fact, most nutritionists will tell you to minimize your intake of all fat in general to 25-30% and saturated fat to less than 7-10% of your daily fat intake. We think that’s good advice.
As we always say, B.A. Fat Finder™!